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These are the easiest things that our churches can do to achieve growth and strength as a community, so why are we not applying them? Here are some verses that I think are important helpful hints given in the Bible in order to help our churches grow, and some practical ways to implement them.
1 Corinthians 12 (ESV)
Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans you were led astray by mute idols, however you were led. Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except the Holy Spirit.
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is Christ. For in one Spirit, we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—all were made to drink of one Spirit.
For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.
Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.
As we can see from this chapter, in order for the church to grow, we need to appreciate and nurture the gifts of every person in the congregation. Everyone has certain God-given gifts for a person to be a member of the church and have an impact on God’s family and the rest of the world. It is our job as a church to help people realize their gifts, encourage them to embrace those gifts, and help them to grow those gifts.
This is what I picture: Members of the church mentoring the younger people in the congregation. If I know my gift and am working in an area where I can use that gift, then I should be looking for people who also share that gift with me. If they do then, I can encourage and mentor them in that gift. For me, that is an incredible picture of the potential of growth.
Here are some questions. Do you know your gift? Are you using it to help the church grow? Are you practicing your gift? Is there someone that you could be mentoring? Are you proud of your gift or are you always wishing for someone else’s? Are we encouraging people to know their gift and use them in the church?
I think that if we were to truly embrace our gifts and encourage others to do the same, our church would see a great growth.
Ephesians 4:1 (ESV)
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.
When I was first trying to figure out what I wanted to study in college I immediately thought of business and marketing. I have always been intrigued by it and I thought I had several skills that would help me to excel in that area. So, that is what I decided that I wanted to do. I was telling someone about my decision and they said, “What do you think you can do for God with that? How will that benefit God’s kingdom?” And they went on to tell me how they did not think I was making a good decision because I would not be serving God. So, I changed my major to something that I thought would be more…”respected”. And I realized that I had no passion whatsoever for what I was studying, so I switched back to business and I have been so happy and satisfied with that decision, and more importantly I feel affirmation from God that I am doing what he had planned for me.
It is my belief that God needs Christians in every aspect of careers and he gives every individual a calling specific to their life. I think that instead of discouraging people from doing what they feel called to do, churches should encourage those people who are stepping into the uncomfortable. They should encourage them because they will need and thrive on that encouragement. Having Christians in all career fields opens an amazing mission field possibility for Christians. If God has given a person a passion and a skill set for a career, and has called them to that, how can we do anything but encourage them?
I know that I have only talked about one chapter and one verse, but these passages have really stood out to me throughout my college career. I think that if churches can embrace these scriptures and truly internalize them and practice them, then amazing growth will be seen in the church.
I have been thinking and working on a new blog post and it is coming soon. This one will be a little different than what I have written before, so look for it to come out this week.
There is an interesting idea in the sports world that could be beneficial for the church to implement. The idea is watching game film. Every day can be considered “game day” in the business world, so why is this kind of analysis so less common? When was the last time your church or any church looked at another church? This would not be in order to compete against them like it is in the church world, but rather to work together, to share “best practices.” Churches do not really need competitive advantage unless they think they are competing against each other, which is not the premise of churches. Just ask yourself, “What insights might our church be missing out on because we are not asking the right questions or observing those who do it best?” Churches should be working just as hard to better themselves just as sports teams do.